Above, L-R: ASCAP's Rhythm & Soul Team. Jennifer Drake, director; Jay Sloan, senior director; Nicole George, VP; and Jonathan Jones, associate director. (Photo: Mitchell Peters)
It was a warm, sunny afternoon on the the rooftop of the London Hotel in West Hollywood, Calif., where ASCAP Rhythm & Soul's department held its fourth annual Grammy brunch on Feb. 9. Sponsored by Pepsi, Rosa Regale and SunTrust Brank, the event attracted artists like Jill Scott, Melanie Fiona and Tamia, and such music executives as Warner/Chappell’s Jon Platt, Homeschool Entertainment CEO Eddie Blackmon and Title 9 Productions CEO Carmen Murray.
“This event is in honor and celebration of ASCAP’s Grammy nominees,” Nicole George, VP of rhythm & soul at ASCAP, told Billboard.biz. “We don’t wait until after the show, we celebrate them before the show. It’s our way of saying congratulations for such a good job.”
Grammy nominated DJ Camper (left) with Homeschool Entertainment CEO Eddie Blackmon, who also manages John Legend. Blackmon told Billboard.biz that Legend is finishing up his new album, which was executive produced by Kanye West. Expect a first single with Rick Ross to drop in the next few weeks, Blackmon says. (Photo: Mitchell Peters)
Indeed, ASCAP has much to celebrate ahead of the 55th Grammy Awards. Its members nominated for Grammys this year include Jay-Z, Beyonce, Drake, Melanie Fiona, Andre 3000, 2 Chainz, Ludacris, Big Sean, Mary Mary, Big Sean, Mary Mary and Bruno Mars, among others. ASCAP has a membership of nearly 450,000 songwriters, composers and publishers.
Left to right: Former EMI Music executive and current music industry consultant Leotis Clyburn; ASCAP VP of membership for pop/rock Sue Drew; ASCAP senior VP of communications and media Lauren Iossa; and Billboard publisher Tommy Page. (Photo: Mitchell Peters)
ASCAP CEO John LoFrumento said the organization’s brunch has been the highlight of his Grammy week thus far. And elsewhere in the crowd, ASCAP executive VP of membership Randy Grimmett said the pre-Grammy event aims to “raise the profile of our songwriter members for their accomplishments” and in turn “raise the awareness in the public at large that everything in the music business starts with the song.” Both also mentioned their excitement for the upcoming ASCAP EXPO in April.
Ivan Barias, one half of production duo Carvin & Ivan, with Tamia, who's "Beautiful Surprise" is up for Best R&B album this year. (Photo: Mitchell Peters)
Warner/Chappell Music Publishing president of creative for North America Jon Platt joked that the highlight of his Grammy week so far was that “I’m still standing. It’s a long weekend.” In addition to ASCAP’s Rhythm & Soul brunch, Platt noted that he was also attending the Roc Nation brunch at the Soho House. “But the biggest, highlight, of course, is the show,” he added.
Left to right: ASCAP executive VP of membership Randy Grimmett, Warner/Chappell Music Publishing president of creative for North America Jon Platt, and ASCAP VP of rhythm & soul Nicole George. (Photo: Mitchell Peters)
Also roaming the crowd was Jill Scott, who told Billboard.biz that she’s currently working on two albums. “One with Robert Glasper and 9th Wonder,” Scott said, “and the other is a lullaby album for insomniacs and infants.”
The singer said the two albums don’t currently have any release dates attached to them. “I’ve got really great musicians and cool music. So I’ve just been channeling and becoming somebody else in every song,” she said. “I get to play every character. I actually sang an entire song in Spanish and was shocked, because I didn’t think my Spanish was that good. And it might not be that good. I’m going to call the song ‘Elementary,’ because it’s probably my elementary school Spanish.”
ASCAP VP of rhythm & soul Nicole George (left) with Title 9 Productions CEO Carmen Murray and artist Melanie Fiona. (Photo: Mitchell Peters)
Other artists and producers in attendance included Goapele, Elle Varner, DJ Drama, B Smyth, Lecrae, S1, Ivan Barias, DJ Camper and Eighty4 Fly, among many others.